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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/699

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VIVISECTION.

which the use of chloral or other anæsthetics is, for various reasons, inadmissible or undesirable. These form two classes. In the first and most numerous, the experiment is generally a short one, and quickly carried out, and the pain slight and transient. It is, of course, impossible for any one to judge truly of the pain felt by any other body, and we may err in two ways in estimating the pain felt by animals. We may over-estimate or under-estimate it. Perhaps a rough but tolerably safe test of great pain or distress may be gained by noting whether the animal is willing to eat or not. When a rabbit, for instance, not previously starved, begins to munch carrots immediately after an operation, or even continues to munch during the greater part of the time the operation is being performed, it is only fair to conclude that the operation cannot be very painful. I may add that, in the experience of experimental physiologists, the skin of the dog and the rabbit—allowance being made for individual peculiarities—is not nearly so sensitive as the human skin.

The second class of experiments carried on without anæsthetics—those entailing a considerable amount of pain—are not only by far the least numerous, but must of necessity become less and less numerous as physiology advances. The end which the physiologist has in view is to analyze the life of any being into its constituent factors. As his science advances, he becomes more and more able to disengage any one of these factors from the rest, and so to study it by itself. He can already, as we have seen, study the complicated phenomena of the circulation of the blood, of respiration, of various kinds of movement, quite apart from and independent of the presence of consciousness. As his knowledge widens and his means of research multiply, this power of analysis will grow more and more; and by-and-by, if physiology be allowed free scope for its development, there will come a day when the physiologist, in his experimental inquiries, will cause pain then, and then only, when pain is the actual object of his study. And that he will probably study best upon himself.

At the present day, the greatest amount of pain to animals is probably caused in experiments which perhaps hardly come under the title of vivisection—experiments in which the effects of starvation or of insufficient food, or the actions of poisons, are being studied. These, however, lead to valuable results. The pain which is the greatest in amount, and the least worthy in object, is the pain which comes to animals whose bodies have been used as tests to ascertain the poisonous nature of some suspected material; but this is a matter of the witness-box, not of physiology.

We may conclude, then, that physiologists are the cause to animals of much death, of a good deal of slight pain, and of some amount of severe pain. A very active physiologist will, for instance, in a year, be the means of bringing about, for the sake of science, as much death as a small village will, in a week, for the sake of its mouths and its